Spanning Victorian Oxford to the London of the 1980s, “All the Perverse Angels” is a novel about the nature of loss and the confusion of love, about the stories we are told and the stories we tell ourselves
Anna, an art curator, leaves the psychiatric wing of a hospital and finds herself in an English village, sharing a rented cottage with her partner. Seeking refuge from the aftermath of past infidelities she reconstructs the world around her through the brushstrokes and histories of her favourite artworks. A chance discovery in the cottage’s attic leads Anna on a journey back to the late nineteenth century and the complicated relationships of two young women studying at Oxford University. As Anna’s investigations blend with the students’ story, and the threads of her life intertwine with those of a century earlier, she finds a way to run from the pain of her losses, both old and new. But the past is not all it seems and Anna’s escape routes are taken from her, one by one, until she must face the truths of her present.
A Note From The Publisher
'When a near perfect manuscript does land, there’s always a miraculous quality about it. A feeling that here was a book you were meant to publish. For me, it happened three years ago when Paul Kingsnorth sent me his novel, The Wake. And now it’s happened again.' - John Mitchinson, Publisher at Unbound
Against the wall the blue lights came and went, came and went, and I remembered. If you really want to feel the drop, you have to close your eyes. And then the car journey, long, winding, through imagined landscapes, and all the while she spoke to me. The this-and-thats of my time away, and all of it hers and not mine because she had earned it and somehow I had not.
She made the pick-up by the glass doors where the set-down had happened three weeks ago. In that abrogation there had been a formal handover. In the collection there was no entry to the building, just a kerb-stop.
There were few material needs in that place. They even provided a toothbrush, wrapped in cheap plastic, with bristles that twisted off on the molars. So the small suitcase was thrown on the back seat and I threw myself in the front and leaned to kiss, but seeing no response faked down to reach my bag and take out water for the drive ahead. When we took a left and not a right I asked where we might be going and was told a break was needed, and so the car journey was long, and wound through imagined landscapes.
Our arrival was a breath, slow and deep. We were in the Cotswolds, she said, nestled as the Cotswolds nestle everything, in warm stone and antiques and second-hand bookshops with cats. The cottage was small, at the end of a path of herringbone bricks running between thickets of cross-hatched twigs, blackened by the fading winter light. On the gate the paint peeled around the ornately serifed “Rose Cottage”. I mourned the flowerless tangles beside the path. Emily stepped through the threshold of the garden whilst I lingered with the cold, watching the moon try to hide behind the smokeless chimney. She was unlocking the door with unfamiliar keys when I caught up.Read more of Chapter 1...
Friday, 14th October, 1887
Today I have missed Father greatly. What a curious admission: I had always thought that the first days of college would fill me with nothing but excitement, and that any homesickness from which I might suffer would linger in the shadows until the solitude of night. It is undeniable that the house is dispiritingly plain and indistinguishable from the other buildings in the vicinity—red brick and sandstone quoins are seemingly prescribed by good taste in North Oxford—but it is also too small for one to feel truly alone. Perhaps I miss Father because I know he would have enjoyed tonight’s reception: he would have made the perfect chaperon.
At the start of the evening we girls crowded together in one corner of the room, finding safety in numbers. Yet, whilst we giggled like schoolgirls—a less than charitable observer would be correct in claiming that we are little more than such—Lady Diana Fitzpatrick entered the room, escorted by a certain reverend professor of divinity, whom I understand to be a friend of the family. Unwilling to have our juvenile natures exposed by this contrast, the rest of us began to circulate in a more appropriate fashion, much to the evident approval of Miss Callow and the other ladies for whom the running of the college has become such a calling.
How shall I describe Lady Diana? She is, in general, unassuming, which description runs somewhat contrary to her arrival this evening. On our first meeting, yesterday, at a small gathering of the students, both old and new—and even then numbering only sixteen in total—she introduced herself as “Miss Fitzpatrick, but my friends call me Diana.” I am only aware of her title because one of the other girls, whose name I now forget, delighted in sharing it with all who remained within earshot after Lady Diana’s departure, as if her society knowledge were likely to increase her own social standing.Read more of Chapter 2...
The Grant of Christmas Present.
Thursday, 21 December 2017
I wasn’t going to post another update until the new year, but I received some novel-related good news today and I thought that sharing it would be an excellent way to round off 2017.
I’m very pleased to be able to tell you that the Society of Authors has chosen to award me an Authors' Foundation grant, to help me as I write my second novel. The Society has been an invaluable companion during…
Thursday, 7 December 2017
I thought this might be a good time to look back over the past few years, to show you the journey from my thinking “something something painting something” to the book that will shortly be in the post. The special edition of All the Perverse Angels is very close to shipping to supporters. If it’s not sent in late December, it’ll be sent in early January. (The exact date is dependent on the schedule…
Monday, 18 September 2017
People, despite all accepted wisdom, are wont to judge books by their covers, and it is time to reveal the jacket artwork for “All the Perverse Angels”.
The illustration is by Joe Wilson, under the art direction of Mark Ecob. It shows… Actually, I’m not going to tell you whom it depicts, or where, or what’s going on: you’ll have to read the book. The good news is, you’ll be able to read the…
Friday, 11 August 2017
Much as I continue to be dismayed that anyone would want to sully a perfectly good book jacket, it turns out that it's the 'done thing' to have a picture of the author troubling otherwise-contented readers. (That is to say, a troubling picture, not a picture of readers being troubled by the author.) More on that in a moment but first, a progress update.
The book cover has now been illustrated and…
Monday, 5 June 2017
It was once true, I suppose, that one couldn’t judge a book by its cover: when all the world’s stories were bound in leather or buckram, or some cheaper alternative; plain hues with gold lettering on the spine; the occasional flourish of bevelled edge or debossed curlicue. Here’s a scene from Eliot's The Mill on the Floss of 1860, in which Mr Tulliver has been listening with increasing horror…
On Copy Editing. (An author and bear meet once more.)
Thursday, 13 April 2017
Once again, in the following dialogue I play the part of Sarah, an Unbound author who remains really, truly, tremendously grateful for the support she has received over the course of the past months. Our second interlocutor is Aloysius, quondam bear of Sebastian Flyte.
Aloysius: Hello. I haven't seen you for a while.
Sarah: I've been busy. Things have been progressing apace.
Edits and Language and Agents, Oh My!
Monday, 23 January 2017
In which I fret, the novel progresses and Unbound continue to catalyse an author’s career.
There’s a line from Arthur Dent in Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “As far as I can see you might as well lower haystacks off the boat deck of The Lusitania!” By the time the play was first broadcast, Adams couldn’t remember what he meant by the joke. And yet, somehow, I find…
The Joy of Hex: on Editing.
Thursday, 17 November 2016
All my edits are in blue, written with the marvellous Hex-O-Matic™ Retro 1951 propelling pencil.
I thought I’d share a quick glimpse into the dark heart of my editing process. You may ask, “What have I done to deserve this?” but, alas, your question falls on deaf ears.
I find that I can’t edit on a computer screen, certainly not when I’m dealing with more than a few pages of text. I…
What Happens Now? (An author and bear discuss.)
Monday, 3 October 2016
Now that I’ve had a chance to meet with Unbound, and collect my thoughts, I wanted to share an outline of the coming weeks and months. I’ve put links to my Twitter feed, etc. at the end of the post, so you can keep up to date with our progress.
In the following dialogue I play the part of Sarah, an Unbound author who is really, truly, tremendously grateful for the support she has received over…
Scrivener and Me.
Monday, 1 August 2016
Scrivener gave me a structured working environment which put everything I needed just a click away, and still allowed me to write without interruption or distraction.
This blog post starts with a plea: if you haven’t already, please take a moment to look at the crowdfunding page for my novel, and consider supporting the publication of its first edition. (Here, also, are direct links to the…
Pictures at an Exhibition.
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
This brief conversation, at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, was one of my favourite moments whilst researching the background for All the Perverse Angels. (The painting is Two Followers of Cadmus devoured by a Dragon, by Cornelis van Haarlem.)
John Mitchinson on Unbound's desire to publish "All the Perverse Angels".
Monday, 18 July 2016
When a near perfect manuscript does land, there’s always a miraculous quality about it.
The following is the text of a blog post by Unbound founder (and author, and publisher) John Mitchinson. I'm reposting it because it is an intrinsic part of my—and the novel's—relationship with Unbound. Whilst I am able to talk about my reasons for choosing Unbound as a publisher, I think it's equally important…
A half-full glass.
Monday, 18 July 2016
The first edition of "All the Perverse Angels" is now 50% funded. Thank you to everyone who has pledged for the novel over the past three weeks. I am told that it gets harder, for a while, at this point, but I am buoyed by all the support I've received, and the kindness and encouragement which have been shown so often and so freely.
Now, onwards, so I can repay you all with a collection of…
Ivory Towers for Algernon
Monday, 4 July 2016
Now we were told, first, that a volume of extraordinarily original verse was coming out; now, that it was so shocking that its publisher repented its appearance...
Algernon Charles Swinburne was an English poet, born in 1837. His “volume of extraordinarily original verse”, entitled “Poems and Ballads”, was published in July, 1866. In my novel, in those chapters set approximately twenty years…
On Sheds and Publishing with Unbound
Wednesday, 29 June 2016
So, here it is, the first post in the Unbound 'shed' for my novel. Welcome. For comparison purposes, here's a picture of the actual shed in which I wrote a great deal of the book. (And in fairness to my mother, who built it, I feel duty-bound to point out that it's more of a summer house than a shed.)
John Mitchinson has been kind enough to say a few words about why Unbound accepted "All the…
Wednesday, 29 June 2016
Digital copies of the novel are available for £10 and £15. The rewards are both identical, so some explanation of the higher-priced option is due.
Outside the UK, postage costs become a consideration when buying a small number of the hardback books. The 'book club' rewards are partly designed to overcome that problem. Another solution is to purchase a digital, rather than hardback, copy, which…
Tours and Trips
Wednesday, 29 June 2016
I thought I'd write a post about the various rewards which involve a tour, since there's not a lot of room on the rewards page to go into detail.
All of the tours are hosted by me, your author-guide for this particular adventure, and will take place after the book has been published. This is good timing, since the tours are all based around the events, locations and objects in the novel itself…
These people are helping to fund All The Perverse Angels.